Lemon drizzle cake

This recipe is based on Tana Ramsay's. It creates the most beautifully moist cake you will ever taste that will keep for up to 4 days and not dry out.

The kids loved baking this with me and especially loved poking the cake with skewers to get all the juiciness inside!

225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
Finely grated zest 1 lemon
225g self raising flour

For the lemon topping
Juice of 1 lemon
80g caster sugar

As you can see there aren't many ingredients and this cake will easily serve 10-12 making it perfect for after a Sunday roast with leftovers for packed lunches on Monday.

1- Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. 

2- Add the eggs one at a time and slowly mix together. Sift in the flour and add the zest of a lemon.

3- Line a loaf tin (we used 8x21cm) with greaseproof paper and pour in mixture. Level the top with a spoon.

4- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Meanwhile hand children a spoon and allow them to 'lick the bowl'.

5- Take the cake out of the oven and mix the lemon juice and sugar for the topping together. We use a bamboo skewer to prick the cake in several places right down to the bottom. 

6- Spoon the topping over the cake. It should sink into the holes and leave a thin layer of sugar on top of the cake. Leave to cool, remove and serve. Delicious!


The Fat Hippo Underground

Tonight we were invited along for a sneaky peek of The Fat Hippo Underground. We love, love, love The Fat Hippo in Jesmond and could not to wait to see what this new venture would have to offer.

The Fat Hippo Underground is situated in a prime location in the centre of Newcastle - just next to the Theatre royal on Shakespeare Street. Blink and you may walk past it though as it is just a small doorway leading you underground. Keep your eyes peeled for the illuminated red fat hippo above the door and you should find it!

Image courtesy of The Fat Hippo's facebook page.

Image courtesy of The Fat Hippo's facebook page.

The interior feels very rough around the edges (which I think is intentional) and rustic in style. You would not feel out of place dressed up to the nines before a night out, in your tracksuit bottoms and trainers or in a smart suit straight from work - it has the sort of cool vibe where anything goes.

As with the original fat hippo, I adored the playlist in the background. Who wouldn't want to smile when Planet Funks's Chase the Sun is being played. Whoever is in charge of music here has it just right!

We browsed the menu which is unusually made of unlaminated paper - not sure how long these will last before they need replacing?

We decided to try the popcorn from the bar snacks section of the menu to start. Priced at £2.75 there was an ample amount for two people - there was a sweet variety and a wasabi variety. Both types left us wanting more and were a great accompaniment to our wine that was going down nicely.

We both decided to try 'The Fat Hippo' burger which is made up of - 2 beef patties, homemade (and huge) onion rings, chirizo, bacon, cheese and fat hippo sauce all in a brioche burger bun with a side of homemade chips and salad. How anyone could get their chops around these bad boys is beyond me! Good job they are served with a knife and fork! They took a bit of deconstructing to eat.

Look at the height on our burgers! Huge! I like how we are told they are served pink and juicy (as they should be) and asked if this is ok. It certainly was with me! Now although I love my friend, sometimes I think she is a bit weird when it comes to food. She asked for her burger to be served well done and this was absolutely not a problem.

We enjoyed the music, wine, company and digging into our buger. We were sooooooo full when we'd finished but both agreed it was one of the best we'd ever had and it was very very satisfying.

A burger plus handcut chips and a salad will set you back between £8-£9.50. The prices are a steal during happy hour (Mon-Fri 5-6pm) where you can enjoy 3 courses for only £11.50!

The Fat Hippo Underground opens tomorrow! 12noon-late weekdays and 11am-late weekends. Call 0191 4471161 for reservations. 


Mother-daughter time with Handa

We are delighted to have been chosen to be part of Handa's bathtime fun squad this year. As part of our role, we will be trying out various Handa products and letting you know what we think.

My daughter was absolutely delighted when our first package arrived earlier this week. It contained shampoo and detangling conditioner spray featuring Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid. This is one of our favourite films and Heidi likes to pretend she is Ariel as they have the same long red hair. We couldn't wait to jump in the bath and try the products out.

With three children, bathtime is a long affair in our house and poor Heidi always shares a bath with her youngest brother. We took this review as an opportunity to spend some quality mother-daughter pampering time together while we left the boys downstairs with dad.

Our pamper night

Step 1 - Make sure you run a lovely warm bath, lie back and wash your hair using the Ariel shampoo. You can practice swimming in the tub and pretend that you too are a mermaid! Heidi decided that the shampoo smelled exactly how she imagined a mermaid would smell.

Step 2 - When it is time for your little mermaid to return to dry land, wrap a warm towel around her hair and towel dry. While your hair is drying, you could paint your nails.

Step 3 - Steal mammy's hairband to keep your hair back and spray with Ariel's magic detangling spray (which smells delicious and fruity).

Step 4 - Handa recommend you comb rather than brush your hair so this is what we did. The detangling spray is some sort of magic miracle worker! Heidi normally hates getting her hair brushed but tonight it was like combing silk! Not a tangle or tear in sight. You can also use the spray on dry hair so I'm hoping it will help create less drama tomorrow morning when it comes to brushing her hair for school.

Step 5 - Practise different hairstyles with your lovely clean hair and strike a few poses before settling down to watch - you guessed it, The Little Mermaid with a bowl of popcorn.

It was so lovely to spend some one on one time with my daughter and bathtime was a lot less frantic than usual! I think we will try and do this again in a couple of weeks time.

The Ariel shampoo and detangling spray we used in this review are available to purchase from Tesco and Wilko now (RRP £2 each). 

For more bathtime inspiration, fun ideas and giveaways, make sure you check out Handa's Bathtime buddies facebook page and follow them on twitter too (@bathtimebuddies).

Now it's competition time. You could win one bottle of Minnie shampoo and one bottle of Ben 10 shampoo courtesy of Handa. Simply enter the rafflecopter giveaway below. Competition closes at 12 noon on 2nd April. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Omg! Today I received the most exciting news! My little blog has been nominated as a FINALIST in the MAD BLOG awards! I am in absolute shock! Over 6000 blogs blogs were nominated so to reach the final 5 is just truly wonderful. Thank you so much to everybody who has nominated me. I would love it if you could now take the time to vote for me again.

Writing my blog is one of my biggest passions in life and although I feel like such a novice at times when compared to others, I hope that my passion always comes through in my posts. I am particularly passionate about the North East and everything our fantastic region has to offer and I hope that you have enjoyed reading my posts about places to visit and places to dine in our fantastic region. There is so much fun to be had in the North East and I really hope my blog showcases the best of it.

Thank you so much.



Northumberland Residents' Festival 2014

******* I am a MAD BLOG FINALIST. Once you have finished reading, if you have have found this post useful, could you possibly spare 30 seconds of your time and follow this link to vote for NORTH EAST FAMILY FUN in the BEST FAMILY FUN category. I am flying the flag for the NORTH EAST and your vote would really make me happy :) Thank you.********

The Northumberland Residents' Festival takes place on Saturday 29th March and Sunday 30th March 2014 (which also happens to be Mother's Day). If you live in Northumberland it is your chance to visit some of the region''s top attractions at a heavily discounted price or FOR FREE!

To take part, you need to download your voucher and take it along to the venue over the weekend along with proof of address. You can read about all of the places taking part in the Residents' Festival Brochure, but I thought I would make it easier for you and let you know my top picks.

 Seaton Delaval Hall and Wallington Hall are two of my favourite National trust properties. Both are fantastic places to enjoy a nature walk and both have outdoor play areas and a tea shop. Entry is FREE during Resident's weekend! Seaton Delaval Hall is even offering free craft activities between 11am-1pm on Sunday 30th March.

If your children are aged 5+ and you fancy a coastal walk' I can highly recommend the Craster-Dunstanborough Walk. Dunstanborough castle is offering 50% discount for tickets during the festival which means that an adult ticket will only cost you £2.20 and a child's ticket will be £1.25. Bargain!

Alnwick garden is a place you can spend the whole day and I don't know of any mum who wouldn't appreciate a trip here on Mother's Day. During Residents Festival entry to the garden for mums IS FREE! Entry for children is only 1p and for all other adult's with a voucher it will be £3. While you are in Alnwick you could pop over to the Newly refurbished Baliffgate museum and enjoy their interactive displays FOR FREE!

We recently thoroughly enjoyed a trip to holy island. You can spot seals from the coast, enjoy the history of the small but perfectly formed Lindisfarne castle and explore the ruin's of Lindisfarne Priory. Entry to Lindisfarne castle during the festival IS FREE and entry to Lindisfarne Priory is half price (so it will be £2.60 for adults, £1.55 for children aged 5+ and under 5's are free). This is such a small price to pay for what will be a magical day. 

If you enjoy Castle's, Bamburgh castle is offering residents 2for1 entry during the festival (works out £9.95 for 2 adults). Bamburgh castle has been beautifully restored and is stunning inside and out. Warkworth castle is the castle for you if you prefer your castle's more rustic! They are offering 50% off entry which works out at only £2.50 for an adult and £1.50 for children (under 5's go free). That price is worth the spectacular sea views alone!

Whitehouse farm may be an option if the weather isn't too good. They offer plenty of indoor and outdoor fun (enough to be able to spend a whole day there). They even have an indoor picnic barn. They rarely discount tickets so grab this bargain while you can - they are offering 50% off entry fee during the festival. A family ticket will work out at only £16.25.

My final tip is Belsay Hall. The garden's are beautiful and the walk to the castle is just the perfect length for a toddler toddle. There is a hall and castle to explore and a lovely tearoom where delicious cakes are served. During the festival tickets will be half price so adults will pay just £3.95 and children aged 5+ will pay £2.35 (under 5's free).

You really would be foolish not to make the most of this fantastic weekend open to all residents of Northumberland - you can visit multiple places too - just make sure you print extra vouchers.


Be part of the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and will be visiting Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1kAhiA1

Spring has finally sprung! It is lovely to see the start of Spring flowers starting to bloom. This month's Center Parcs challenge is all about painting these beautiful flowers with your children. If you enter the challenge you could win a short break to the Center Parcs village of your choice for you and your family. 

We have had a poorly girl off school at home this week but we were still keen to get involved in the challenge. We have been quarantined inside so decided to paint these beautiful orange flowers by our window.

Heidi is very pleased with the finished result (although the green and orange seem to be in the wrong place - all part of the painting's charm though!)

We read the tips for a fantastic painting described by Center Parcs very own creative crafter Emma Hull  and decided to make our painting 3D by adding a orange magnet to the centre of our flower. We hope you like it.

This month's challenge closes on March 30th. If you'd like to take part, good luck!


Kuoni 'Scents of Adventure'

Take a look at Kuoni's 'Scents of Avenenture' map which is a map with a difference. If you get up close you can not only see many popular holiday spots on the map but you can also smell the unique scents of different destinations across the globe. Apple pie is the scent of America and coffee beans is the chosen scent of Brazil. You can see (and smell) this map for yourself in real life in the Kuoni travel shop at the Bluewater shopping centre.

There is something missing from the map though, and that is the signature scent of the Maldives. Kuoni have asked bloggers to explain what we think the scent of the Maldives should be. If we win, we will receive a trip to the 5 star Maafushivaru resort in the Maldives which would be a trip of a lifetime! In fact any of the Maldives resorts featured on the Kuoni website would be a trip you would certainly remember forever.

When I think of the Maldives, the picture created in my head is that of miles and miles of white sandy beaches with the sun shining down on the clear sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean. Lying on a beach here has to be the ultimate way to relax. I imagine, as I am lying (and relaxing) in the sun, the scent I would smell would be that of wood gently warming in the sun's glow.

Why wood do I hear you ask? Well the Maldives are famous for their wooden beach bungalows and wooden water bungalows all connected across the ocean with wooden walkways. If I close my eyes I can almost smell the scent of the wood warming beneath my feet as I walk from my water bungalow to the beach.

Wood plays a huge part in the history and culture of the Maldives. Maldivian Dhoni boats are a symbol of the country's nationalism. They are hand crafted on the islands and used as fishing boats and to transport tourists between islands. Traditionally they are made from coconut wood sourced directly from the islands. I can imagine taking a sunset stroll along a Maldivian beach and watching the shoreline become crowded with these boats returning from a days fishing. Again if I close my eyes and inhale, wood is the scent I believe I would smell.

Wooden lacquerware is one of the Maldives' most famous crafts and they are sought after souvenirs for tourists. Wood is painstakingly hollowed out and hand carved into a beautiful vase, bowl or basket which would be sold by locals across the islands. Again, as I browse the market stalls and shops of the Maldives, it is the earthy smell of wood I believe I would smell.

My perfect trip to the Maldives would involve relaxing on deck of my wooden water bungalow, exploring the many islands via dhoni boat, sunset strolls watching the fishing boats return to shore and browsing the locally produced crafts on offer. All of these would involve the unmistakeable scent of wood gently warming in the sun's glow which is why I have chosen this to be my signature scent of the Maldives.


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5 reasons to be cheerful this week

1. World book day
I loved seeing all of the pictures of little one's dressed up for world book day. My youngest even made the newspaper (he's the Gruffalo's child - front row)

2. Starting college
There is nothing like a new challenge to re-energise you. I started a business admin course at college this week, it's exciting to have something new to get my teeth into and I'm already looking forward to my first assignment.

3. Discovering discounted Yankee candle's
Haha, small things! We spend a lot of hours (yes hours) at work talking about Yankee candles. We have a bit of an obsession! My colleagues have been telling me about an outlet that sells them at a heavily discounted price for ages! I finally managed to visit this week and managed to get some fantastic bargains! I will be back next pay day.

4. Date night
Once every 4 weeks both me and hubby finish work at 8pm (ish) on a Saturday night and the kids sleep over at grannies. Although we often don't feel like it after a long day at work, we use this time to go out just us two and I love it. This week we are going for a pizza with some vouchers we have left over from a review.

5. Spring is here
This week the kids have been to the park and played outside with their friends every night after school. We've been able to open our windows without freezing and our daffodils are flowering. Spring is definitely here.

What reasons do you have to be cheerful this week? 

The obligatory pancake post!

Shrove Tuesday - the day when you are supposed to use up your store cupboard ingredients in preparation for lent - yet now the opposite happens. Supermarket aisle ends are packed full of various 'pancake kits', sauces and toppings and instead of using up what we have in our cupboard it seems we have been convinced to buy into this market and actually spend money buying more ingredients!

I have to confess we did use a 'Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire pudding mix' we had in our cupboard and today when I was in our local supermarket I was tempted to buy a bottle of toffee sauce and a jif lemon! Can't believe I fell into the trap! Especially when we already had lots of toppings we could use in our store cupboard!

The kids were so excited to make pancakes.

Their excitement came to a head as they stood back and watched me flip the pancakes! I have not seen them so excited in a long time! Pleased to say that none ended up stuck on the ceiling or even the floor.

Lindisfarne lemon curd was our favourite topping. The kids enjoyed honey, lemon juice and toffee sauce (7yo even tried all of this together!)

Although we always enjoy making pancakes, I think this is probably the first year the whole family have actually enjoyed eating them all which was nice (rather than messing about, making a mess with lots of toppings on the plate and then leaving the pancake)

Did you enjoy pancake day? What were the favourite toppings in your house this year?


Holiday and short break ideas

North East Accommodation
Dark Skies mini breaks in Northumberland

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